Today is a historic day of both tragedy and victory for the working class. Workers struggle would like to repost a text written some years back about this historic day that has been stolen from us by the bosses. Today is a day for WORKING women, not women capitalists who exploit them. We honor our sister’s memory and share an important text by our sister and brothers of Batay Ouvriye in the sweatshops and fields in Haiti, on the front lines of exploitation and domination. We feel that the legacy of our struggles must NEVER be forgotten. You can find the text and pdf version beloiw
May the workers fight continue!
PDF for sharing: March8
The Real Meaning of March 8th
Most workers in the world don’t know the date of March 8th is of the greatest importance for them. And many of those who do know it don’t realize what the date really represented in history. For us, conscious workers, for whom the struggle is our daily life, it is absolutely necessary we know our true history, the various battles waged by our class and the lessons we should draw from them. First of all, since many workers in Haiti and throughout the world, especially in the maquilas and free trade zones, work in the textile industry, we should know that the mobilizations held on March 8th, 1908, were carried out precisely by textile industry workers.
Despite this, presently, most workers in this branch know nothing of this part of our history. In 1975, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th “International Women’s Day”. Once more, this was a recuperation of the international ruling classes to distort the real significance of our battles. In this way, they have attempted to wipe out the collective memory of the real working-class mobilization that occurred on this date, turning it into a wide-ranging, limited celebration completely void of class content, in which all women partake, including totally anti-worker and reactionary bourgeois women. In this way, the nature and logic of our battles are obliterated. Our own history is robbed from us.
What was March 8th?
March 8th is a historic date! Doubly so. First of all, on March 8th, 1857, a large number of factory workers in the United States took to the streets to demand their economic and political rights. The owners called the police who arrived immediately and opened fire, engaging in blind repression…
Later on, in 1908, the same date of March 8th was once again a memorable date of struggle. On this day, capitalist bosses in Chicago set fire to a textile factory where over a thousand women worked. A very large number was terribly burnt. 120 died! This heinous crime happened simply because the workers were demanding that the legal 8-hour work day be respected, as well as substantial ameliorations of their work conditions since they were working in a hellish environment in which their very dignity was constantly and totally denied. In this factory, however, the workers refused to cower.
They fought daily. And having reached a certain level of organization, they held protests, work stoppages and strikes… On this day of March 8th, 1908, instead of obeying the law and satisfying the workers’ legal and legitimate demands, the factory owners decided to bar in this way what they called “the rising disorder”.
Solidarity Mobilization and the “Commemoration”
An enormous national and worldwide solidarity campaign was launched, denouncing the workers’ situation. Work stoppages, strikes and even factory occupations were held throughout the world to protest against this practice that revealed so crudely how capitalism has no consideration for human life when its economic interests are on the line. The campaign didn’t succeed in really dealing with the capitalists responsible for this organized crime that happened on March 8th.
But combatants in the entire world registered this date as highly significant of this factory’s working women’s immense courage; and, for all, this eternal flame glows in our hearts.
Several years later, in Germany, Clara Zetkin, a great combatant and revolutionary, suggested setting this precise date of March 8th as international day of the WORKING WOMAN, given its double significance for working-class struggles. But, with the ebb of our class’ struggles during the second part of the 20th century, March 8th began to lose its true meaning and, progressively, mainly due to petty-bourgeois deviationists, it was changed into “women’s day”, in which much talk goes on concerning feminism and where, instead of consolidating working-class unity by calling men and women workers together in the struggle – just as, precisely, occurred during these historical March 8ths –, we’re called to fight one another. The field thus prepared, in 1975, the UN easily resumed March 8th as “International Women’s Day”.
To Understand and Draw Lessons
It’s important to point out that one of the reasons for this deviation is the partial abandonment of working-class memory by members of this very class and, at the same time, the taking in hand of such an important theme as that of women by agents of other classes. Indeed, the specific theme of women, concerning the contradictions that may exist – and do exist – in the relations between men and women of the working-class, is of great importance. But it should always be resolved within our own class. First, because there exist here specificities that our totally our own; secondly, because once regrouped, only within our class can we find a true and complete solidarity. Finally, and above all, because we can’t and shouldn’t, under any conditions, consent to class collaboration under any circumstances, since these options will always lead us to lose our own independence, which is the most important for our class’ emancipation, a key element for that of the entire humanity.
It is no coincidence that our struggles, of the working-class, gave rise to the date of March 8th. All battles for the peoples’ emancipation, for the emancipation of humanity, emerge from the class interests of the working-class. This is also true of the struggle for women’s rights. The working-class’ liberation, in its true, wider, sense, will have to be a total liberation. Otherwise, it won’t exist. The emancipation of the working-class is the only one that demands, indeed commands, concurrently, the emancipation of women.
Since this theme affects them too, many middle-class and even liberal bourgeois women have engaged in gender struggles and, deliberately – since they have several objectives and never forget what’s most important – combine all women as having the same nature, mystifying us and, especially, taking the lead of initiatives. They completely detach March 8th from its first and basic meaning as a class battle where working-class women headed the struggles with hope and courage. They obscure all but gender considerations, thus twisting this date so profoundly belonging to us, when in practice, precisely the practice of struggle, we, men and women, had united together.
At present, during March 8th celebrations, women denounce the abuses they endure in patriarchal society. These problems are real and these denunciations have great importance. We can say that they contribute to the resolving of real, significant, human problems that we, as women workers and women of the peoples’ camp suffer in our flesh as well. But never, either, will we forget that during this March 8th, we faced the bosses – and their women! As always. We bear in mind the exploitation that we, women workers, suffer in the factory-prisons, the humiliations owners and managers submit us to on a daily basis, the constant and casual sexual harassment. This capitalist domination that feeds off our dehumanization, treading our human dignity, reminds us, that just like on this historical date of March 8th, capitalism is built over our corpses. And that, always, each time our deep, economic class interests are concerned, when even death may come into question, we’ll clearly and surely find ourselves standing across from these bourgeois women organized with us in the gender struggle.
The only permanent and fruitful unity for us is within our own class, in alliance with the entire people – brothers, friends, comrades. Here and only here can we resolve our problems. March 8th should never serve the purpose of mixing us with bourgeois women who, in their factories or those of their husbands, feed off our blood! There is no struggle we should carry out with them. Quite the opposite, March 8th should remind us all of the working-class women who fought and gave their lives in 1908; March 8th should remind us of all the working-class women presently suffering the same exploitation, domination, repression within the bourgeois’ factories; March 8th should remind us of all the working women dominated in so many other forms in this present society: petty merchants of all sorts, house-workers, peasant women…
All, sisters in struggle. This understanding of March 8th, this understanding of our basic reality calls us to take up our responsibilities! By no means is this a moment for lamentation!
WOMEN IN THE WORKING-CLASS
Today, March 8th, is for us an opportunity to think together a bit more on our own situation as women, working women, women of the working-class. To begin with, we should be clear on a first thing, a first attitude that is key: this is no moment to lament! It’s a moment to try to understand better how we can advance in our battles, while taking into account, with all the rigor necessary, our specificity as women.
Roles and Responsibilities
In our class, as in all classes, women play an important role in the class’ physical reproduction. We’re the ones who give birth to the future workers and, during the whole period of upraising, we’re the ones who bear the brunt of this responsibility. In the home, we have numerous responsibilities. So, we are extremely important for the class’ reproduction as such, although, purposely, we aren’t given the fundamental place we in fact hold for the entire society. In general, in the society we live in, the role we play is practically summed up by our place in the home. Although this is indeed an important function, studying this more deeply, we’ll see that we have many more roles and responsibilities within our class. It’s important we know them, that we be aware of them, to be able to face them better and better organized.
In countries dominated by imperialism, capitalism’s main orientation is to develop assembly industries. Free trade zones are in full expansion, to the point that authorities in some of these countries are even suggesting changing their whole nations into free trade zones! With this orientation, while the development of local industries hasn’t yet totally halted, it has become extremely difficult. In free trade zone industries, the main tendency is to employ women workers. Various reasons explain this. To begin with, according to the capitalists involved in this process, women are more submissive and the bosses don’t have to face so many protests and struggles in the factory, which allows them more latitude to impose the unbounded exploitation they desire. Also, they believe women have a superior capacity for certain types of work, especially those, like textile and electronics, demanding greater attention.
So, they find us more “efficient”. Furthermore – and this is as precise as sadistic a calculation – they know that women, once returned home, have so much work to do, they have no time – or, at least, less time than men – to organize. They also know – and perpetuate – that women are
often involved in religious activities, which, again, not only leave them little time to organize for the defense of their rights, but also maintain them further yet in the expectation of divine solutions, thus weakening many of our women comrades’ spontaneous spirit of combat. The bosses know too that an additional factor they have in hand is sexual harassment. This type of gender domination, in fact, often walks hand in hand with an economic dependency: if women don’t accept their passes, they risk losing their jobs.
Many women thus find themselves permanently trapped in a high level of fear because of this, and consequently are less willing to risk fighting for their rights. Finally, in the society we’re living in, women have much less work opportunities. The factory remains a unique possibility and in order not to lose this rare work chance, there’s enormous pressure on our shoulders, for, at home, the earnings of our mates alone don’t cover the bills – not to mention when the woman is the only head of the household.
As we can see, the bourgeoisie acts in highly thought-out ways. Its only worry is its profits and, with this simple logic, we, working-class women, are always the worst victims. We may ask ourselves if it succeeds in its objectives. Certainly, this permanent scheming yields results– and many! But we can’t either answer simply that yes, the bourgeoisie is attaining its objectives in this way. Because we’re also sure that this state of affairs is necessarily short-lived. Throughout our struggles as women and men, the most important thing we realize is that, in capitalism, we are all enduring terrible heights of exploitation in our flesh and blood – which in turn creates the firm basis for the bravest and most valiant members of the working-class to progressively assume their responsibilities and engage in the organized struggle to confront this exploitation, even hinting at the possibility of its final total elimination.
Capitalism is a school of war in which the working-class constantly learns how to battle better. For the time being, our class history’s limits hinder us greatly, causing us to perceive the reality we live in, and the future, as totally bleak. Nevertheless, only in the struggle will we develop our ability to fight. It is precisely within this very process that, little by little, accumulating knowledge and, thus, better vision, we’ll be able to take in hand our rights, our lives, and our destinies.
Will we encounter difficulties?
Beforehand, we can say yes. Society, generally, hasn’t shaped us to naturally trust ourselves. Neither has it trained us to be aware of our abilities to organize and battle collectively sufficiently for us to take our complete class destiny into our own hands. Many are the women who say: “if this was done by men, it’d be much better”, or “what a pity there aren’t any men in this factory!”. This is because we’re forgetting that practically all the union federations that have shamelessly sold our classes’ struggles were headed by men and only men!
This is why we say: men or women can equally be cowards or stooges… just as they can be brave and conscious. Our lack of experience shouldn’t lead us to underestimate ourselves. The most important is that our place in society, our place in production, our place within our own class demands we take our responsibilities in hand and, for this, recover our courage, our character, and set foot in the battle, firmly. In this way, we’ll develop our capacities and, in this way, we’ll have more confidence in ourselves.
Awareness and Courage
It’s important we realize that many women have taken and continue to assume their responsibilities. They, too, have the same household chores, the same prejudices they endure, the same gender domination flooring them. But they’ve been able to understand and realize, first, that their class interest are the only deep and permanent ones, and further, that firm and consequent struggle is the only way to wrestle their rights, and, finally, that gender domination can only be resolved permanently and truly through their own struggle.
For this, we have to go beyond the limits society imposes us. We can’t remain dominated by gender prejudices. We have to fight them, firmly! But also and in permanent articulation with the general struggle for our class interests, within these interests. Many men, whether workers or not, comrades or not, understand this issue quite clearly and are struggling with us in this, without reserve. But we’re the first ones who should give the initial step to sustain and advance our demands.Concretely, we have several characteristics – precisely as women – that heighten our capacities to carry out these tasks. We’re the ones who organize our homes, so we have practical experience, not only the developed ability of organization as such but, also, the fact of having to face the problems of the lack of services the State should guarantee us: electricity, water, trash collection… and, especially, the decent housing each family should have a right to. Since we’re the ones who take care of our children’s schooling, we, once again, are the one confronting the terrible schooling problems our kids have.
Also, since we’re in charge of going to the market, we’re the ones who constantly confront the never-ending increases in the cost of living… Finally, the factory itself, with all its horrors, gives us nevertheless an awareness of the collectiveness of our suffering and the aims to be attained. This is precisely what can help us to develop the CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS that is basic for the necessary unity we need, to wage the battle for our rights and, further ahead, for our hegemony as workers.
Our responsibilities are already tremendous just to improve our immediate work and living conditions. But they don’t stop there – they go much further. Haiti is going through terribly difficult moments. It’s our duty to analyze and understand them; always, starting from our class interests, articulated with those of the entire people and actively participating towards their resolution. To attain this, not only do we need to define an orientation corresponding to this process, but also we have to organize to make it happen.
The mobilization in Haiti today includes legitimate and totally consequent legal demands. Furthermore, it is organized, determined, and with a high capacity of mobilization. Nevertheless, though the mention of salaries is present amongst the demands, it needs to be placed in its determinant place and consequently, reveal the system’s coherence, its intrinsic logic, so we can better fight it.
What’s the logic at work?
In distant colonial times, the colonialists certainly didn’t come to our lands to evangelize or “civilize”, but rather to exploit slave labor. Similarly, presently, the imperialists, with local capitalists, come first and foremost to exploit wage labor that, deliberately, they cause to be thecheapest possible in their “third world” The fact is that branches of the economy that, in the United States, didn’t manage, due to their lack of advanced mechanization, to stabilize their benefits according to average rates – particularly, the textile industry, precisely – immediately perceived that they should come to countries like ours to profit of the planned rotting of our local economies and social formations.
This rotting has given way, on one hand, to the loss of self-sufficiency, and, on the other, to a wage labor called “free” but that in fact is in quasi- slavery, labeled, in the most shameless way, because of its very low cost attained, a “comparative advantage”, within the capitalist “market”. This is the logic of the maquilas and free trade zones where our futures are callously planned, where we die, dehumanized, humiliated. In this, to advance this process, high levels of unemployment are needed, to constantly keep wages down; the high cost of living and depreciation of local currencies, too, to keep real salaries low; education needs to be reduced, to obtain void minds; needed too, is the poverty of the whole people, extreme and generalize, so that anyone, at any time, agrees to receive any kind of salary!
Maquilas, free trade zones and inner cities are all part of a single logic! For this: State repression! To confront popular movements of struggle, strikes, mobilization, demands… however legitimate they may be. State repression guarantees IMF and World Bank “adjustments”, guarantees the stealing the banks and the state apparatus operate. But above all, State repression in the factories guarantees their profits! Maquilas, free trade zones, inner cities and State policy: all are part of a single logic, that of exploitation!
This is why it’s urgent we understand quite clearly our importance, as women and workers. Not for the dull reason of “being important” but rather because, due to deep historical and structural reasons, we are, today, in a very specific position of great importance: that of being the main workers of the maquilas and free trade zones, a key and essential element of the entire system…. we have to diffuse this information, have it understood, interiorized and realized by all our comrades in our homes, work, neighborhoods, just as, with them, we have to attain CLASS UNITY, along with our allies in the entire People, within our Camp, nationally and internationally. … we have the opportunity to play the highest role, humanly speaking, to transform this knowledge, this understanding, this awareness… into MOBILIZING MATTER and thus attain, through our struggles, the hopes of humanity in its entirety.
DOWN WITH THE RECUPERATED AND ALIENATING MARCH 8TH!
FORWARD MARCH 8TH, DAY OF THE COMBATANT WORKING WOMAN!
FORWARD THE STRUGGLE OF THE WORKING-CLASS!
FORWARD THE WORKERS’ COMBATIVE STRUGGLE!
FORWARD THE VALIANT PEOPLES’ STRUGGLE!
Batay Ouvriye, March 2006
The following is text from our sisters and brothers at Batay Ouvriye (Worker’s Fight) in Haiti about the November elections in Haiti. Batay Ouvriye is an autonomous mass working class movement which has been organized over many years of intense repression from the bosses. Capitalists in the US have shipped many production and assembly jobs oversees where they can exploit and abuse the workers and laborers around the world a lot easier for a lot less pay, often with the help of mainstream US unions. Workers Struggle stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Haiti in their attempts to construct a new Haiti, one where workers have their own autonomous power and control.
The November 20, 2016 Elections prove to us that elections are not the solution for Haiti. This is not the first time Batay Ouvriye has denounced these types of elections in the country. However, today, we can see clearly the fake November 20, 2016 elections were totally a selection. And that was forseeable ! It’s a competition among politicians, trickters and big-eaters to see who will control the state apparatus, in their own interests first of all, and then in the interests of the ruling classes and imperialism. And even if it wasn’t a selection, the elections would have been, all the same, in the interests of the ruling classes, in particular, the capitalists, the bosses and imperialists.
The elections, fraudulent or not, is one of many ways bourgeois democracy renews its dictatorship, exploitation and domination on the backs of the people’s camp, on the backs of the workers used as mounting ass (donkey). It is the nature of the democracy and power of the ruling classes. It guarantees capital accumulation in the interests of the ruling classes, in corruption, malfeasance, and all manner of crimes to maintain control of state power in their interests and the imperialists. Those elections allow them to insure continuity of their domination and exploitation, particularly, when we witness the role the CORE GROUP and various United Nations agencies such as PNUD and MINUSTAH play.
With the bankrupcy of the ruling classes in the country, the state apparatus, which is also bankrupt, provides no services. It has become a source for corruption. Therefore, whether it’s big-eaters, or trickters, when they accupy positions at the head of the state, it’s not only to steal. That’s one reason too but the money can be converted into a source of capitalist accumulation to invest in drug racketeering, contraband, trade, land etc…So, corruption is not only robbery but serves capitalists to accumulate capital. They all serve the imperialists despite the fake nationalism of a few.
This situation leaves us with the possibility of a social explosion in a confrontation between the popular masses and the ruling classes. In this way, the crisis will deepen where the explosion may take the form of a civil war. This is the way the masses should understand it, all the genuine progressives must understand it that way too. The general situation is very, very dangerous for us because it can lead to the escalation of the cocupation. However, it must be clear : the confrontation among the ruling classes is secondary as far as we are concerned in the people’s camp. This is why : we are telling those workers and other toilers who believe in the propaganda of the ruling classes to cast their ballot : THEY ARE FOOT SOLDIERS WHO DON’T KNOW WHOSE SIDE THEY’RE ON.
We, the conscious workers in Batay Ouvriye, it is our responsibility, and together with other conscious toilers to offer OUR AUTONOMOUS ALTERNATIVE.
Conscious workers must build unity within our class based on our own class vision in the country. We must rally other classes in the masses around our vision.
The ruling classes and the imperialists have already shown they are capable of destroying the country. It is us workers and the toilers who bear the country on our backs. We are the producers of the wealth the ruling classes keep for themselves. Let’s show them we are foot soldiers who know whose side we’re on. Let’s pave the way for a GREAT HAITI. In our own interests and that of other workers internationally.
LET’S ORGANIZE FOR OUR OWN FIGHT :
- Minimum wage of 500 Gourdes ($7.46) a day, at least !
- Job creation with good working conditions !
- Respect for our rights to form unions without harassment !
- Comprehensive Agrarian Reforms to provide land and support to small peasants !
- Curb the high cost of living by encouraging and supporting national production !
- Good social welfare : Free Universal Healthcare, Free Universal Public Education, Good Drinking Water, Electricity, Adequate Housing and Good Living Conditions in our neighborhoods !
Batay Ouvriye January 14, 2017
The following is text from a flyer being handed out by Batay Ouvriye (Worker’s Fight) in Haiti. Batay Ouvriye is an autonomous mass working class movement which has been organized over many years of intense repression from the bosses. Capitalists in the US have shipped many production and assembly jobs oversees where they can exploit and abuse the workers and laborers around the world a lot easier for a lot less pay, often with the help of mainstream US unions. Workers Struggle stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Haiti in their attempts to construct a new Haiti, one where workers have their own autonomous power and control.
They have several types and forms of organizations present within the movement. This text is from a flyer currently being handed out by the intermediate level organizations to the workers there, often concentrated in sweatshops within massive complexes known as “Free Trade Zones” and “Industrial Parks” (The pleasant language of the capitalists hiding the intense levels of exploitation taking place). Workers Struggle will develop and put out a text on this concept as it is the focal point of unity among ourselves. American workers and Haitian workers (as well as workers all over the world) are under brutal assaults by the same capitalist class and together we can fight for our own interests! Since they have been organizing for decades, their language and levels of unity might seem complex at times, but this is the language of the working class constructing its own power in a place so brutally attacked by so many masters of wars. It is an extraordinary example of what workers and laborers can do, if we organize ourselves!
For many years, we of Batay Ovriye have been saying this society is in crisis. It’s a crisis that has splintered the whole of the inner frame of society. This is an economic, political and cultural crisis. This is a crisis that is decaying society. Neither the ruling classes, the state, nor the imperialists can find solutions to this crisis.
Since 1986, they employed many schemes to try to get out of this crisis : elections, coup d’etats, occupations, fraudulent elections…however, the country falls deeper into worse recurring crises. We in Batay Ouvriye, we are clear of one thing for sure: whether it’s an orange, the state apparatus, or the social formation of society that is sucking our blood, when it’s rotten, it’s rotten for good, there is no cure for it.
When the orange is rotten, we can only throw it away in the trash. This social formation exploiting us, this state that’s repressing us, this state that has become rotten and under the orders of imperialism, there is no cure for them. WE CAN ONLY THROW THEM AWAY IN THE TRASHCAN OF HISTORY.
Today, once more, the ruling classes and the imperialists want the popular masses to follow their plan of exploitation. They want us to go and vote in the elections. Society is decaying, the wound is the « electoral crisis ». The ruling classes and all the candidates want us, the candidates want us to vote for them, but they will do nothing for us, they will only cater to their own interests. Further, each candidate is surrounded by a plethora of electoral thugs tagging along behind them in pursuit of state jobs. Many elections have been done already, and the country is in deeper crises forevermore. All the past governments have clearly demonstrated they were incapable to deal with the crisis the country is experiencing, while politicians are filling their pockets.
We witnessed how the elections of August 9 and October 25, 2016 stuck in their throats. Despite such a big contradiction, the politicians managed to mobilize a good part of the popular masses and divided us in their own interests. This contradiction plays a major role in mystifing the popular masses. Today, we are facing the same situation in which the enemy is leaning on us to rebuild themselves with only one intention and that is to take state power.
In this context, we must think deeply about the electoral lies and deceit the candidates are presenting before us in the popular masses. Notwithstanding, all we can say, there are many among the popular masses who lend their ear to the election propaganda. For example : we talk about elections, we mobilize and we strive to vote despite all the complaints among us.
The elections are a struggle among the politicians to enrich themselves in the plan of exploitation of the ruling classes and the imperialists. None of these politicians will do anything for us, workers in the sweatshops or other factories.
We must be clear, for the ruling classes and the imperialists, it’s either they organize the elections or extend and consolidate the occupation to maintain their power over us.
In the popular masses, we are facing another choice : either we tag along the plan of our enemies fighting in the electoral arena, or we have to pursue our own independent struggles. Elections or not, new president or not, or a more stringent occupation because of the bankrupcy of the Haitian ruling classes, the fight on the electoral arena is not ours.
Our Struggles are :
- Fight against exploitation, fight against the abuses of the capitalists and feudal lords
- Fight for the minimum wage of 500 gourdes for an eight-hour workday ($7.81) at the least
- Fight for the poor peasants to find land, sharecroppers to change to 3 parts, day laborers to get better wages
- Fight for all workers to get health insurance and work insurance
- Fight to organize our own unions without retaliation
- Fight to build another type of state, our very own state
- Fight to build another type of society in the interests of the popular masses with the laborers as the backbone under the leadership of the workers.
There is not one candidate nor political party that articulates these demands, and even if they did, it would surely be political pandering. This state is not ours, these elections are not ours.
The most advanced workers who are beginning to see clearly and understand their historical responsibilities must have a clear battle cry and clear orientation for the masses to demarcate themselves from the rotten orientation the traditional politicians are spreading among the masses.
We have a challenge : finding a solution to build an immediate alternative for the masses to get out of this situation, so we can stand up on our feet firmly to make decisions based on our interests, and to not let politicians use us.
In the context of this challenge, there are no easy solutions. Poisoned food does not cure stomachache. We must organize ourselves based on our real interests with a clear line and battle cry above all.
Our work must allow us to build a combative independent organization of workers.
The Struggle has just begun.
ADVANCED WORKERS : LET’S ASSUME OUR HISTORICAL RESPONSIBILITIES !
October 20, 2016
We’re sharing this video from an incredibly powerful Chilean MC: Portavoz (which means “spokesman” in Spanish). This is our first sharing of music. We feel that a working class and progressive culture is needed in South Florida. It will be constructed through the efforts of the working class and laborers here. However, as an organization based on working class principles, we will continue to spread any music we feel is relatable to us. This helps show the efforts of artists and workers in the US and around the world that may be useful to constructing an autonomous working class movement. Some content will be more historical others contemporary. In this particular video, Portavoz demarcates from official Chilean “history” and the reality facing regular working people versus the capitalist presentation in their media (true to the elements of Hip-Hop and it’s tendency of being the voice of everyday ordinary people). It draws a clear line between the Chilean masses and the classes dictating Chilean society. Chile historically has had strong, well organized worker’s organizations and this is reflected in their creative works. As an international class, we feel the workers should know their history here and abroad, and much of the specifics to Chile can easily be replaced by local details in South Florida and US in general. English subtitles are available on the “settings” button of this link….
Looking Back In Time: Workers in the US and Chile have a link not too well known among our workers. Chile was the scene of a brutal military coup backed by the US (with our tax money!). The direct CIA and economic intervention of US Imperialism which backed certain factions of Chilean capitalism, was responsible for the kidnappings, tortures and murders of tens of thousands of working people in Chile. Chile was where the current economic attacks on workers around the world with budget cuts, cutting wages and mass privatizations was first developed. Forced by Pinochet, the General who ran Chile for Chilean and International capitalists, the Chilean economy undertook massive attacks on the working class
Workers Struggle shares a glimpse of our sister and brother workers reality in Chile and recognizes the brutality of the bosses the world over for profit no matter what it does to our lives or our world. This should act as a calling to ourselves here to organize against those who exist off the labor of workers, and at our expense!
(Posted by Ricardito Ramos, 11/06/2016)
We work most days,
profits up and wages fall
feeling weak with painful feet
times like this, we’re getting’ squeezed
the bosses though, live comfortably
By Ricardito Ramos
Rent’s outta control! To be honest everything is crazy expensive. Living in South Florida (or anywhere), is getting so hard you can work full-time and still barely get by. Not to mention all the other costs to live. How many people do you know can even live on their wages alone? To avoid the burdens of rent, many in South Florida are staying longer with their families or with roommates.
We’re told by capitalist “news” and other media that this or that policy/treaty/decision “creates jobs”, but what kind of jobs are these? How much are these jobs actually paying? Who’s making all the money? Who/s doing all the work? Funny how those who work longer and harder always make less
US workers work longer than most workers in industrialized countries with less vacation time and smaller “benefits” packages – if any! There has been a constant attack on the US workers. This is true around the world, in the international economy. Here, in what politicians and corporate reporters tout as “the free world”, workers and laborers are attacked on every front in every aspect of our lives. Of course, when we’re divided by skin color, ethnicity, gender, etc, it’s easier to get away with the assaults. If we blame workers fleeing terrible violence and low wages in Mexico for example for “stealing our jobs”, then it’s easier to hide the fact that capitalist trade deals like NAFTA devastate farmers and workers on both sides of the border.
These trade deals are made by capitalist politicians for their economic interests directly against the workers on both sides of the border. And yet, it is the workers who are screwed in both countries. It should be noted these deals have been made and continued under every president, Democrat and Republican. With all their differences, they have no problem with uniting against us. Their circus of blaming each other is all we get on the news they own and control as they hide the economic reality we face daily and manipulate it to serve their agenda; the agenda of the immense minority of capitalists against the masses of people.
Look around at the food prices and high rise luxury living and office spaces that keep growing. Workers Struggle doesn’t see these fancy quarters of the rich as “development” that benefits us: the working masses of South Florida. We see the buildings that those who build can’t afford to live in as a sickening reminder of the immense disparity. All this construction is bringing more instability and gloom to our lives, as they block our sun and convert our community “public” spaces to private grounds with billions of dollars worth of metal and glass in which only they can afford.
For us, the price or rent and cost of living is agonizing. Our decisions are not whether to take the yacht or private jet out today. Our decisions are do we buy food today and take out money for rent, or eat less and face possible eviction. We pay car insurance to billion dollar companies who pay their employees the same shitty pay we get, buy gas from trillion dollar companies doing the same. We pay taxes yet aren’t guaranteed a roof over our heads. They get bail outs when they take our money and engage in risky market gambling. They may lose millions of our dollars but it’s ok for them. You know why? It’s NOT their money anyway, not until they pocket it all!
Just because we are on the receiving end of such robbery and treachery doesn’t mean we gotta like it. Just because this is the way things are today, doesn’t mean they must be this way tomorrow. Everything that we have that’s in our interests came from us coming together and fighting for it! Think of all the shrinking rights we have:
days off, vacation time, health care (if we can even afford it), child labor laws, 8 hour days
None of them were graciously given to us! We fought for them all!
We don’t have to agree on everything, but we can agree on certain things we should have. We can change the reality we face today, but only if we organize! There’s no other way! Our lives get harder each year. Not because it’s just life, or because there is scarcities in food, homes, cars, etc. Things get worse because as we work more, capitalists are making record profits! Each capitalist makes MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year! Those millions grow as we lose our jobs, our hours or wages are cut, and retirements slashed. We’re forced into an “Affordable health” market and can’t afford the doctor visits.
They’ve erased our collective class history & identity to deny its power, but the future’s ours!
Why? Because WE CAN come together and make the changes we need, we always have. History won’t forgive us if we don’t organize! The world is run by a minority class of people, so why can’t it be run by the majority? Workers can have the power to make a better world, so let’s unite to fight for what’s rightfully ours anyway!
The question is:
How much longer will see let them get away with their crimes against us and nature?
Like all major cities, Miami (a strategically located port city) is undergoing a major development transformation. Everywhere you go in Miami, you see construction cranes operated by a score of low wage brutally over worked workers. Many of these workers are recent migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. Many are Miami locals trying to feed themselves and their families in a rapidly changing world. Drowning under rent, food costs, and other piles of bills, these workers work long hours, sweating day in and out, some working 6 or 7 days a week. This is not something unusual but rather more and more common all across the world. Miami after all is an international city, meaning what we see here is a glimpse of the world, with different ethnicities, different languages, rich cultures, and extremely polarized (vastly different) living conditions depending on which class you belong to.
Who’s Getting Paid?
Investment capital is flooding Miami. Investors from all over the world are leading the transformation of the City, especially the Downtown and Brickell areas. These “investors” (Capitalists) have been buying up tons of real estate for tens of millions of dollars a pop (can you imagine having so much money by doing no work?!). Brickell, called “Manhattan of the South”, is home to the highest concentration of international banks in the country after Manhattan
…..Where’s the worker’s share?……
Who’s Not Getting Paid?
Look around Miami and what do you see? With an unemployment rate of 5.6% as of August 2016 (more than the 5.2% US unemployment rate for the same period), this development “boom” is not evident for us all is it? NO! The working people of Miami AS ALWAYS are under a direct assault of capitalism’s “prosperity”. Construction workers in Miami (the very people building ALL of the new developments, the offices, the condos, etc) are paid wages that are 5% lower than the rest of the country! Meanwhile, Miami is seeing investment of over $10 billion dollars! Ye you read that right!
This isn’t a shock to us who work day to day just to afford a living (barely). We see the luxurious cars on the streets, the skyline being taken over by high rise offices and condos, new playgrounds and events for the rich popping up all the time. BUT WHAT ABOUT US?! We get the low wages as everything around us is rising in costs. We are told by the Capitalist press that we should be thankful to these “job creators” (THE NERVE!). Mind you, the CEOs, the “investors”, the people behind Clinton and Trump, are making tens of millions of dollars a year, EACH!
How can this be? How can the costs to live be sky rocketing, the profits of capitalist CEOs+investor returns be in the millions each as we are paid less, forced to work overtime, work multiple jobs, etc. just to survive?
The answer is simple, tragically so. It is the working class who not only builds and produces and gives value to EVERYTHING in the capitalist economy, but it is the working class who is exploited so that their exploiters can earn those profits, off their backs! Workers are paid less, produce all, transform steel beams and plywood and pipes into giant buildings which are sold for billions by people who do none of the work and “own” all the property. Meanwhile, the workers are forced to struggle day to day.
Workers who build the private hospitals can’t afford the medical care to go to those very same hospitals.
The workers who build all the condos can’t afford to live in those very same condos
How Does This Make Sense?
Unless we fight back, this situation will only get worse! Workers Struggle isn’t buying the lies of the capitalist politicians and their media and other screaming parts of the machine telling us why we should suffer every day, why our children should have no hope for a future and our planet should head to a grave. Workers have the power, but WE MUST ORGANIZE! Together, we can fight back! Together, we can form organizations to stand up to the bosses and build a mass movement led by and for the workers and laborers! Together, we can do what we have always done in history to make our lives better and put the future of our world, into our hands!
Together we can control our own lives!
As of October 2016…..Currently under construction (please check back monthly)….
What does class autonomy mean? Autonomy means, in essence ‘without them.’
Just as the company owners and management (capitalists and their representatives, respectively) meet without us, the workers, to make key decisions in the interest of growing bottom-line profits without our presence or input, (read: making decisions about the workflow, processes, expectations imposed upon us), we must heed this strategy to and also meet and organize our interest autonomously, without them. Companies with their owners and management do not just meet without us present, they always prepare themselves beforehand to best assess, measure and methodically educate themselves to analyze the present situation to judge what is a course of action, or strategic decision that is most in their interest as a class.
Facing Our Adversary: Why We Freeze
We all know what it is: when we are together with our fellow workers and laborers, even the ones we don’t particularly like, we feel more assured and free to speak the truth, because there aren’t tiers of power-over our livelihood present. This changes as soon as management calls a meeting with us; we tense up, we shut down, we know the power over us is present and anything said or not said could potentially lead to a cascade of crisis for our families if the paycheck doesn’t come next week and we can’t pay the bills.
Principles are Instructive
The core principle of Class Autonomy in Working Class Struggle calls us to recognize that uneasiness we feel in the presence of management is instinctually correct and instructive. We must heed its call. Our condition is shared with our fellow workers and laborers and to firstly identify our interest and criteria we need to meet together and organize independently from these antagonistic interests.
On occasion we may have a supervisor or member of management who seems kind and genuine with us, and while it may feel temporarily comforting to receive a little empathy from him we cannot let our guard down and lose sight that management, regardless of the individual’s personality, is there for one reason alone: to protect the interest of capital no matter it’s expense to your life.
It is only as a class of workers and laborers gathering in organized fashion without these outside antagonistic interests present that we can begin to identify together our common situation and carve a collective unified response and strengthen our footing as a whole. Together we must draw these boundaries around us so we may carve the path to command respect and power amongst each other in our workplaces, our communities and when we are isolated facing management so we are not pressured to sell-out our fellows and self.
For far too long, we as workers and laborers have repeatedly been guided by outside interests and represented at the table by non-workers. This has included politicians, figureheads who lobby for negotiating with management on their terms, company seminars and workshops, company installed hotlines, and increasingly so today non-profit organizations with philanthropic missions. These others have been stepping in to “help” us to do our heavy lifting for us preventing us from building our capacity and strengths of leadership. Without class autonomy a conflict of interest exists: the fox has been guarding the henhouse. We must reclaim our autonomy, embrace education and organization based on collectivity and unity and kick the fox out.
Who decides on how we live?
Work, taxes, pay cuts and all we give,
Bosses treating us like kids
When we come together we can fight all this!
Read all solidarity statements for Sakuma farm workers here:
Victory to farm workers!
We stand in solidarity with farm workers in Washington State and San Quintin, Mexico who have organized an international boycott of retail products containing berries from Sakuma Bros. Farms, including all berries sold under the Driscolls brand and Haagen Dazs (Nestle) ice cream. These workers have been subject to wage theft, abusive conditions, and impossible production demands.
When workers autonomously organize to fight against exploitation and abuse, we must stand with them in support and solidarity. Workers across industries and borders have a common struggle, and only together can we win!
We pledge to honor the boycott, and urge others to do so, until the farm owners submit to the workers’ demands.
Sudbury, Ontario chapter
Fort Lauderdale, FL chapter
Miami, FL chapter
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
We at Workers Struggle recently got word of you organizing your first ever General Assembly. CONGRATULATIONS! We are in a situation in the world where we face the same exploitation and domination everyday, sometimes we are even robbed by the same companies! Though our day to day conditions and situations are very different, our enemy is the same. Our interests are one with yours. Every victory for your organization(s) is a victory for all of us! If we can build organized solidarity across borders and across waters, we can construct an alternative to the beast running rampant on the world, exploiting workers, attacking peasants, farmers, students, and everyone in between. We extend our hands in solidarity and camaraderie to you and wish you victory in every situation you face! Your strength and determination is inspirational and we stand by your side!
Yours in Struggle,
Workers Struggle-Fort Lauderdale
Textile workers in Haiti ask that we pressure H&H sweatshop (where clothing for retailers like Walmart is produced) to rehire the workers who were fired, respect the right to organize, and to pay the wages workers demand. Working class solidarity knows no borders! Workers of the world: unite! Please share widely.
Details here: http://goo.gl/PW0h8l
We received a notice for an event coming up:
The Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network invites you to our monthly progressive community
gathering on the occasion of the 101st Anniversary of the first U.S. Occupation of Haiti
(July 28, 1915-July 28, 2016).
Haiti: Imperialist Domination, Occupation and Emancipation: The Working-Class
Refreshments & Debate
Saturday, July 30, 2016 – 6:00 PM
Jan-Jak Desalin Community Hall
836 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn
(between Church Ave and Erasmus St, take #2 train to Church Ave.)
for information call: email@example.com
We received this message (original Kreyol is below):
We, the workers organized in PLASIT, (Platform of Garment Industry Unions) we salute all our comrades who took part in the solidarity response against all the illegal reprisals and abuse we have faced at the hands of the garment industry bosses in Haiti and all their associates in the big brand name multinationals. These bosses have decided to fire and repress us for standing up for our rights, while every day we suffer the injustice of their wages of misery.
Your response to pressure these bosses was very useful and greatly appreciated.
We have decided to stay strong and keep up the fight for our right to living wages, good working conditions and the right to organize in our own unions. To achieve this, we have staged many work stoppages. These actions have led the bosses to negotiate the production quotas with us. We have signed agreements in several factories and we are still in negotiations in others. These negotiations will enable some workers to earn more than 500 gourdes daily, depending on how much we produce. These actions also enabled us to uphold our right for our unions to negotiate with the bosses and fight for our collective demands. This is a step forward. But the struggle does not stop here.
We will keep up the fight for 500 gourdes daily along with social subsidies! We will keep up the fight for the reinstatement of all our fired comrades! Our comrades Télémarque Pierre, Clergé Félixon along with 2 other workers at Palm Apparel have not yet been reinstated. They were fired for having taken part in protests to demand an adjustment to the minimum wage by the government. That is why we stand firm: Down with abusive practices from bosses! Down with misery wages! Down with illegal and arbitrary firings!
It’s up to us workers to stand up together everywhere, along with the support of progressives, and fight this exploitation and domination. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Let’s stay strong together! Long Live the International Solidarity of the Working Class!
TEXTILE FACTORY UNION PLATFORM
[original Kreyol version is below]
Greetings to our Media Friends, radio, newspaper and television covering the Press Conference that PLASIT-BO is giving today. The objective of this conference is to make known our position after the mobilization we launched since this past April 14 to pressure the government to set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94) at the very least and other accompanying demands. We can say that our mobilization did bear fruit because it impeded the offer of 265 Gourdes (US $4.21) that the capitalists wanted to shove down our throats.
Notwithstanding the fact that we are not satisfied with the Executive Order setting the wage at 300 Gourdes (US $4.76) as reference wage and 350 Gourdes (US $5.56) as minimum wage for workers in production, we recognize this will allow us to negotiate with several capitalists on the question of piece work and force them to pay arrears since May First that they owe us, just as this is being done even today as we speak in CODEVI, Ouanaminthe. In addition, we wrote to the president of the Social Affairs Commission of the two branches of Parliament to express our concerns on the 2009 law, which creates a lot of confusion about two minimum wages existing in the sector; they are playing deaf and are dragging their feet with absenteeism in the parliament, while issues that are sensitive and important to the people are at rest in the drawers.
We are denouncing with all our strength acts of repression perpetrated by capitalists such as Alain Villard and Clifford Apaid against many of our comrades, namely the General Coordinator of SOTA-BO and spokesperson of PLASIT-BO, Telemarque Pierre, and the Assistant Coordinator of a SOTA section in Premium Apparel and two other comrades in Palm Apparel after the day of mobilization on May 11 and May 19, 2016, which PLASIT-BO launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage immediately.
Those capitalists, Clifford Apaid and Alain Villard, are simply defending their own interests, not only as reactionary bourgeois, but also, they act according to the dictate from a US Department of Labor memo sent to them after ADIH, which called us ‘terrorists’, in cahoots with Better Work denounced and condemned the so-called acts of violence they said were perpetrated against property and people on the days of mobilization.
The firings represent hallmarks of anti-union and arbitrary discrimination and retaliation. They want to punish union organizers that stand up to fight for just demands on the pretext of violence on the days of our mobilization. While we are fighting for the reinstatement of our comrades who were victims of the repression of the capitalists, we are continuing to fight for other demands associated with wages such as the social benefits we called for in our mobilization, namely, food subsidies, schools for our children, transportation, and social housing. True, we got a little something with Executive Order on the wage adjustment, but the fight is not over. That is why we demand:
- Reinstatement of our comrades, Telemarque Pierre, Clerger Felixon, Cadet Mackenzie and Adrien Jean Anslo immediately in their post unconditionally.
- That the Ministry of Social Affairs launch meetings with the unions, management and the social security institutions to discuss the recommendations that the Supreme Salary Council made in its last report, such as the question of social benefits, and then conclude with a clear resolution to make sure this question is really implemented.
- The Haitian State should provide a mechanism to relaunch negotiations on the reforms to the Labor Code, because the existing code does not conform to the present reality.
- The Supreme Salary Council should make plans to start meeting in the month of July in order to be able to make its recommendations in a timely manner in the month of October as it should.
- The Parliament should make plans to legislate a new law on the minimum wage. The 2009 law is full of confusion and does not conform to today’s reality.
- The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in particular the Free Trade Zone Administration, should immediately stop dragging its feet on the project to build a cafeteria in CODEVI, since the money is already allocated, so workers can eat in a decent environment.
DOWN WITH CAPITALISTS THAT ARE VIOLATING UNION RIGHTS IN THEIR REPRESSION AGAINST UNIONISTS WHO ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR RIGHTS!
LONG LIVE WORKERS WHO ARE DEMANDING LIVING WAGES AND BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS!
MOBILIZATIONS FOR LIVING WAGES AND UNION RIGHTS WILL CONTINUE MORE BOLDLY!
Telemarque Pierre, SOTA-BO
Perrenard REMY, SOKOWA-BO
Port-Au-Prince, June 10, 2016
(A message to a Left Forum panel about working class organizing)
I’ve been working full time in the blue collar sector for over 30 years. I have over 20 years in the transportation industry and another 6 on a factory floor, with a few other jobs during my first few years in the labor force.
From early on I started to hear and experience the same grievances and issues coming from coworkers and most other working people I would encounter. It became a recurring theme: low/stagnant wages, forced overtime, not enough time off, unsafe working conditions, and the inability to work and retire with dignity. And I’ve experienced these as well.
On top of that, I’ve watched companies and lawmakers systematically take back what working people have fought so hard for in the past
In the mid-‘90s I became a member of Teamsters and quickly learned I could do something to help. Even if small, it was something. I learned that the fight was still on. That awareness has never left me, and it’s why I continue to do what I can to fight for working class interests.
If anyone is here as a protester or activist for the sake of being a protester or activist, or to gain some notoriety, or to make yourself feel good, we don’t need you!! If you came here to have your picture taken with Michael Moore….go home!! We have no use for anyone who’s here to make a name for themselves or rub elbows with someone they may think has fame. This is real. Our struggle as working people is real and we’re losing ground every day. We need help…. real help to stop the bleeding and reverse the tide.
It seems that many people have given up on the idea that we, the working class, will lead this struggle to end our exploitation. If not the working class, then who? Protesters? Activists? Academics? We can use all the help we can get, but none of the above are facing the kind of exploitation that working people are facing today. We’re still here and we’re losing ground rapidly. 100+ years of struggle and we’re moving backwards! How can that be?
Many of today’s working people are growing frustrated with the state of the unions, corrupt leadership, dwindling membership, lack of participation and the general loss of power that we once fought so hard for. That’s not to say that the labor unions don’t have their place. I’m a union member and still believe we play an important role on the road to emancipation. But many working people are seeking an alternative, some way to go beyond what today’s unions are able to accomplish. There must be an alternative, otherwise we stagnate in our current state… working hard and getting nowhere!
About a year and a half ago I was involved with trying to organize a terminal at Con-way Freight. This move was inspired by a single terminal in Laredo, TX who blindsided the company and voted for union representation.
Over the course of the next several months two other terminals voted for representation. The threat of a large scale organizing movement had corporate running scared. They issued a video to each terminal practically begging for another chance. They claimed that they now heard us, and they were willing to address our issues – as long as we stopped our organizing campaign.
We received substantial raises, changes to our disciplinary policies, and local management were instructed to back off. It was quite an achievement for just a threat. Unfortunately, even though some organizing efforts continue, for the most part they have come to a halt. Many of the workers decided to give the company another chance, and within a year Con-way Freight was sold to XPO Logistics, the second largest LTL carrier in the country.
But this experience convinced me that if we are able to make such drastic changes from a mere threat, imagine what we could do if truly organized!! We can go far beyond winning a few temporary concessions from one company or another. That’s why it’s so important that we as a class, the working class, must organize together on a large scale. By organizing, and remaining militant, and autonomous, not letting anyone use us for some other agenda, we can achieve the power necessary to free ourselves from the exploitation we face every day. Only we, the working people, can do this for ourselves.
I want to say something about why I prefer the phrase “working people” instead of “workers.” To me the word “worker” has a similar feel as the word “slave.” A “good worker” is an obedient wage slave. It’s a condition we want to free ourselves from. In most cases, the one who achieves the “good worker” status is usually the person who out-preforms their coworkers. The ones who conform, and blindly do what they’re told. The ones whose loyalty favors the company rather than their coworkers. The sad part is many working people buy into this and wear it a badge of honor. This is how companies divide their work force. By pitting us against each other: you didn’t stay an extra 3 hours so somehow you must be weak or not dedicated.
I do good work but I’m rarely called a “good worker,” for which I’m glad. I’m usually considered more of a troublemaker. There was a time workers were feared. That needs to be restored!!! WE are the ones generating 100s of millions even billions of dollars for a chosen few. A company can operate without a CEO or COO, but it cannot operate without a work force!! We hold all the cards!!!
We in Workers Struggle and working people in the US and Canada support textile workers in Haiti, members of the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO), who are fighting for the minimum wage and the right to organize.
We are watching how companies and political agencies and NGOs are putting obstacles in front of workers who are struggling for a better life. Similar outrages are perpetrated upon us – often at the hands of these same multinational companies and institutions, and their allies!
Workers around the world suffer while a small minority gets rich by exploiting us. We need to reach our hands across the borders they created, and start coordinating our struggles. If we stand together, these companies won’t be able to keep pushing us into their “race to the bottom,” forcing us to compete for the lowest pay. Instead, we need to force them to pay at least a living wage to all workers, everywhere!
* Premium factory: No retaliation against union organizers! Rehire Telemarque Pierre!
* Gildan and other global brands: Make sure the factories you contract with—everywhere—pay workers what they are due, and treat workers with dignity!
* Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor of Haiti: Concede to workers’ demands for a minimum wage of 500 gourdes!
Workers of Haiti, we stand in solidarity with you in our common fight. As we support your struggle, our best contribution is to build a strong, autonomous, militant working class movement of our own, in the belly of the beast. That is our goal!
We received the following call for international solidarity from Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO). Please take action, and send solidarity statements to the workers (info below). Kreyol original is behind the cut.
Following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 that the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately, Clifford Apaid, owner of the plant, Premium Apparel, made the decision to fire our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, General Coordinator of Apparel and Textile Workers Union (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson for PLASIT, on Saturday May 14, 2016.
The firing is an act of repression, which is not a surprise to us after we learned of the declarations of capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association), Better Work and USDOL (United States Department of Labor). They are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization. After these declarations of war, we knew the bosses were going to retaliate against us, workers, who are fighting to change our lives.
We denounce the repression against our comrade. We say, “an injury to one is injury to all of us.” We’re calling on our friends and comrades, brothers and sisters in national and international organizations to demand the reinstatement of Telemarque Pierre in his post immediately.
To do so, contact the companies and agencies below :
Premium Apparel (factory): firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST), Haiti : email@example.com
In addition, you can contact the following:
AGA Corporation (Premium is its subsidiary):
7209 NW 41 St., Miami, FL 33166-6711
Gildan (the international clothing brand that contracts with Premium):
Jason M. Greene, Director of Supply Chain: 843-606-3750
Corporate office (Montreal): 514-735-2023; toll free 866-755-2023; firstname.lastname@example.org
Customer Service (Charleston, SC): 843-606-3600
Twitter: @GildanOnline; facebook.com/GildanOnline/
Use #RehirePierre #SolidarityForever #500Gourdes
Send statements of solidarity directly to the textile workers, and let them know of your activities: email@example.com
[Kreyol original below]
Management has begun a repression campaign following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 by the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately. The general coordinator of the Apparel and Textile Workers Union-Batay Ouvriye (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson of PLASIT, Telemarque Pierre, has been fired on Saturday May 14, 2016 with no motive given. This act of repression is not a surprise to us coming from the factory boss, Clifford Apaid. He’s simply acting on his interest not only as a reactionary bourgeois, but also, acting in accordance to the dictates of his masters in United States Department of Labor (U.S.D.O.L.). Capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association) in mesh with Better Work and U.S. Department of Labor are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization.
Cheaply said but badly thought out. Just as May 11, we have become aware that it is through our COLLECTIVE STRUGGLES WE WILL WRESTLE OUR RIGHTS UNDER THE WEIGHT OF CAPITALISTS, THE HAITIAN STATE AND THEIR IMPERIALIST MASTERS. We, the workers, know very well, “an injury to one is injury to all of us in the working class.” Where were ADIH, USDOL and Better Work for the eight (8) months that nothing was said about our minimum wage ?
All of these ravings are a declaration of war against us, workers, who are fighting for a living wage allowing for a better life for our children. They are speaking of violence without thinking about the violence we are subjected to everyday in not being paid a living wage to meet our basic needs such as feeding our children, paying rent, having health insurance even as we work so hard. This is the violence capitalists are perpetrating against us, workers, while the institutions, national as well as international, and the Haitian State, have said nothing against that. They all keep their mouths shut.
It should have been clear to the bosses and their allies, “hungry dogs don’t play!” They are responsible for the conditions that forced us to take to the streets to scream for help so they give us a minimum wage of at least 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday). Neither ADIH, Better Work nor USDOL can understand the extreme violence against us when we cannot feed our children dinner everyday after work. We are forced to go and borrow 20 gourdes ($0.32) in order to give our children sweetened water to drink. They are using a few isolated incidents committed during the living wage mobilization to confuse the issue and make the victims appear to be the bullies. In this way, they can launch a repression campaign or take sanctions against union leaders.
That is why we say : The firing of our comrade will not be tolerated. All employers who wish to use the dictates of USDOL to intimidate us, make us afraid to continue to organize or mobilize, we are telling them, WE WILL NOT OBEY! The Fight for social justice will continue! Our comrade is fired for his union activities, demanding a living wage. Union activities such as strikes and marching cannot be motives to fire a union leader. The firing of our comrade is an act of repression, intimidation and interference in the fundamental rights of workers to organize concerted activities to defend their economic and social interests.
We demand the reinstatement of our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, immediately! Why should he lose his job just because he was doing union business for demands of a collective nature? We disagree with the minimum wage of 265 Gourdes ($4.21) the ADIH employers are pushing for. We will not be intimidated nor give up in this fight. The mobilization for a minimum wage of $500 Gourdes and other demands will continue with more vigor! We will rally on Thursday May 19, 2016 to continue our mobilization in front of SONAPI and march to the National Palace.
DOWN WITH REACTIONARY ADIH BOSSES WHO ARE PULLING STRINGS TO STOP US FROM GETTING THIS MEASLY MINIMUM WAGE !
FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE OF FACTORY WORKERS WHO DEMAND 500 GOURDES ($7.94) AS MINIMUM WAGE !
THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!
PLASIT-BO/MAY 16, 2016
A news report by Vant Bef Info, May 11, 2016. Translation by Google Translate, slightly edited [original French below]:
Workers of subcontracting firms currently begin (9:30 am) a work stoppage followed by a sit-in outside the offices of the National Society of Industrial Parks (SONAPI) at the airport road, Vant Bef Info learned.
The initiative came from the employees of manufacturing companies located on the airport road, who headed to SONAPI to find the solidarity of other workers.
The protesters are demanding five hundred (500) gourdes as minimum wage and require, among other things, compliance with legal provisions relating to this issue.
All activities are suspended at SONAPI, businesses doors are closed. As the workers demonstrated, agents of the National Police of Haiti appeared on the scene.
There are tensions at times, and vehicular traffic is very difficult in the area of SONAPI.
TEXTILE PLANT UNION PLATFORM
PLASIT-BO (Textile Plant Union Platform – Workers Fight)
TO COMMEMORATE MAY FIRST 2016, WE SAY: WE WON’T OBEY!
MayDay is not “Day of Agriculture and Labor.” It is a day to commemorate the struggles of workers on the planet. To celebrate agriculture and labor is to celebrate a collaboration where workers are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the bourgeois bosses and the latifundistas together with representatives of the reactionary government. That’s an all-out effort to prevent us from commemorating what MAYDAY represents for workers all over the world. They say it’s day of agriculture and labor while there is no real policy for the development of agricultural production or investments to create decent jobs at the very least in the country.
MAYDAY is the commemoration of this gigantic FIGHT THE WORKING CLASS throughout the world carried out in 1886 to achieve an 8-hour workday among other demands. Facing off the bourgeois and their reactionary state, this FIGHT began in the city of Chicago in the United States. Quickly, it spread throughout the country. Then a year later, it covered the whole planet. The reactionaries killed workers and laborers, lynched some of them and deported many others. However, the working class fought back also. They struggled and hit back an eye-for-an-eye. There were even special combat organizations, mass mobilizations, FIGHTS everywhere, for a long time. Finally, the bourgeoisie together with their reactionary state conceded to the workers demand for the 8-hour workday for their earned wages. Haiti is one of a few countries on the planet which does not acknowledge this date and tries to claim it to co-opt workers into class collaboration with the bourgeois bosses. Today, we see through the maneuvers and games of the State where even the governments that claim to be “progressive” show the same reactionary attitude of deviation-cooptation.
That is why PLASIT-BO says: WE WON’T OBEY! We will always wage OUR INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES in the commemoration of MAYDAY. So, in OUR INDEPENDENT MOBILIZATION, in Port-Au-Prince as well as Au Cap, Caracol, and Ouanaminthe, we are raising our immediate demands, namely:
- A living wage to meet the needs of our children, our families and ourselves. We demand 500 gourdes ($7.94) a day at the very least without increasing the quotas, and other social benefits ;
- Good working conditions and respect for our union rights to defend our interests ;
- A new Labor Code that protects all categories of workers against exploitation and humiliation ;
- A social security system that protects us against line-of-duty accidents, illnesses, maternity and old age based on a real social protection net in the country ;
- Comprehensive agrarian reform and technical support for peasants and other laborers in the rural areas ;
- The country to regain its sovereignty to choose its own economic model to create wealth and decent and sustainable work in our territory. And for the State to guarantee a decent living conditions for workers and laborers and their families on the basis of the wealth creation. Therefore, the State must guarantee the social and economic rights of all workers against all national and international capitalists so they don’t step on those rights.
Today, the imperialists, the bourgeoisie and their reactionary State are attempting to disorient our minds on the fraudulent elections; those elections that aggravated the deep structural crisis in the country. Today, the economy is in deep trouble; interference/stewardship and the MINUSTAH military occupation is growing rapidly and threatens our sovereignty as a nation. Therefore, we should not continue to obey this decaying social order. We, workers, laborers, the popular masses in general, to achieve real change in our lives, in the country in general, we must continue to focus on our true interests firmly so we can contribute to the development of a gigantic movement of uprising that will pave the way for a new Haiti.
LET’S COME TOGETHER TO DEFEND OUR INTERESTS!
AGAINST THE BOURGEOIS VIOLATING OUR RIGHTS AND THEIR REACTIONARY STATE!
ONLY A GENREAL MOBILLIZATION WILL HELP US EMERGE FROM THE HOLE WE ARE IN!
LONG LIVE THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!
May First 2016
[A statement from PLASIT-BO, Textile Plant Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), in Haiti. Kreyol original is below.]
WE FIGHT FOR :
- A living wage to meet the needs of our children, our families and ourselves. We demand 500 gourdes ($7.94) a day at the very least without increasing the quotas, and other social benefits ;
- Good working conditions and respect for our union rights to defend our interests ;
- A new Labor Code that protects all categories of workers against exploitation and humiliation ;
- A social security system that protects us against line-of-duty accidents, illnesses, maternity and old age based on a real social protection net in the country ;
- Comprehensive agrarian reform and technical support for peasants and other laborers in the rural areas ;
- The country to regain its sovereignty to choose its own economic model to create wealth and work in our territory.
TEXTILE PLANT UNION PLATFORM (PLASIT-BO) INVITES ALL WORKERS AND LABORERS IN ALL SECTORS, POOR PEASANTS, THE UNEMPLOYED, STUDENTS, SERIOUS MILITANTS TO A DEMONSTRATION ON SUNDAY MAY 1ST, 2016 TO COMMEMORATE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY.
WE ARE RALLYING AT 9 :00 A.M. IN FRONT OF THE INDUSTRIAL PARK (SONAPI) TO START THE MARCH ALONG THE AIRPORT ROAD, AROUND DELMA 18, PEYAN ROAD, BEL-AIR, AND TO REACH CHAMPS-DE-MARS.
THIS MAYDAY, WE ARE TAKING THE STREETS TO DEMAND OUR RIGHTS THAT ARE VIOLATED. WE STOP OBEYING THE EXPLOITING RULING CLASSES AND DISHONEST POLITICIANS ! LONG LIVE THE WORKERS AND LABORERS EVERYWHERE ! WE ARE THE ONES WHO CAN BREAK THE CHAINS BINDING OUR FEET !
*** Continue reading
Press Conference on April 14, 2016
Greetings to all our media friends, print as well as television, that come to provide coverage for the conference that PLASIT, which is Textile Plants Union Platform, to launch the mobilization for the minimum wage adjustment for the year 2015-2016. In PLASIT, we notice that 8 months following the beginning of the fiscal year, the Supreme Salary Council finally made recommendations to the government just as it did for the past 2 years. Thus, the Council has adopted a bad habit of not respecting what is stated in Article 4.1 in the Law of 2009 on the minimum wage.
In the Supreme Salary Council, it’s mainly delaying tactics and plots going on. Management and the two so-called union representatives in the Council are dragging their feet so that management may continue to steal several months of workers’ wages. So, management will have more leeway to continue to pay workers measly wages. The 8-month delay is in the interest of management while prices of all basic items are going up and the Social Affairs Ministry does not urge them to respect Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulating that when the inflation rates increases more than 10%, workers’ wages must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate has reached more than 14.5%. Therefore, the plot against the interests of workers has been consolidated.
We learn that the Council, after 8 months of delaying tactics, proposed a minimum wage of reference of 300 gourdes ($4.76) and the minimum wage for production to be 400 gourdes ($6.35) a day for the textile sector. It’s clear the 300/400gourdes will not solve our problems, especially with the increase in the cost of living, and our purchasing power is plummeting and the value of the gourdes is decreasing in relation to the dollar. For us, at the very least, the minimum wage should be500 gourdes ($7.94) to 1,000 gourdes ($15.87). However, management and their stool-pigeons in the state who get their orders from foreign donors say this will make Haiti non-competitive with other countries. We are denouncing these plot-laden arguments on the backs of workers spilling their blood in the factories.
Report from Garment Workers, CODEVI Free Trade Zone, Ouanaminthe, Haiti
April 9, 2016
For the past 2/3 weeks at the CODEVI plant, there has been a wave of mobilization for wage adjustments. Workers who sew T-shirt hemlines at the MD factory stood up to demand more money for the quota they were asked to do. They had a two-day strike.
This week, the workers who sew jean pants waists at the AM1 plant rose up to demand wage adjustments also.
After their first day of strike, CODEVI fired seven of them. It was when the workers returned, they found out that security agents stopped the seven from re-entering the factory. That activated a second day of strike in solidarity with the fired workers. The workers were in the factory already. However, when they learned that seven of them were fired (two fired based on article 42, and five fired based on article 37), they began to mobilize inside the plant. So the other factories joined in.
After lunch, the workers didn’t return to the plant but instead took to the streets in Ouanaminthe to protest and voice their demands.
They chanted all kinds of slogans. Some demanded wage increases, others demanded the return of the ONA insurance moneys taken from them each payroll (this is pension money). Problem is that the workers don’t see the necessity to put money away in a pension fund for later in life. They have no confidence in ONA insurance as a public institution. They protested on the streets of Ouanaminthe until they reached the offices of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. In the negotiations that began, there was an agreement on quotas. But there was no change in articles 42 and 37 for the 2 fired workers. This was what motivated the workers to take the mobilization to the streets to denounce CODEVI for the decision to fire the 7 workers and the question of wages or quotas they are forced to do.
Following this great demonstration of strength on the part of the workers, as they returned the next day, CODEVI agreed to:
One morning of March 2016 a couple of organizers with Workers Struggle hit the streets of south Florida to reach workers who we heard are very unhappy, overworked and could use some help from the outside to jump-start an organized struggle. Organizers targeted a very large supermarket distribution hub/warehouse with leaflets for the upcoming May Day 2016 event.
This was the second time to hit this location after the first time, a week prior, security guards on golf cart rolled up on organizers handing out leaflets and asked them to leave as they were on “private property.” This time organizers stood at the street on the public sidewalk and passed leaflets to cars driving in and out at their shift changed discovered to be ~6am when the influx of traffic hit.
Organizers approached cars saying, “I have an invitation for a free movie showing about a group of workers who organized themselves for higher wages and better conditions. We hear things are bad in here and we want to come together with you to learn what we can do and how to organize”
A couple of different workers separately said emphatically “YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE”. More than one called it “Legalized Slavery” and many sympathized with the need for more money for wage and better conditions overall.
One worker said, “you see what time it is? I got here at [X time] yesterday, this is slavery in here!!” Looking at the clock, that meant he just worked a 16 hour shift. He yelled, “call the news! we need help!” as they drove off in a long van with ~7 workers inside. Presumably, a transport service provided by the contract labor agencies.
Another worker who exited the bus at the bus stop in front of the facility said, “there’s about 5 different bossmen operating in there” (bossmen meaning companies, he said), and “you get paid a set amount per day (presumably for 8 hrs of work) but usually we work 12-16 hours for that amount.” He said there’s some fellows working on suing the company and he is hopeful that will force them to change. We implored him to join us on May Day to learn how we can build momentum together in organizing that goes even beyond a potential lawsuit.
Several workers said they will be there on May Day event, if they are off work.
The folowing was sent to us from Batay Ouvriye. On March 11, Batay Ouvriye took part in a press conference with JILAP to denounce the abuse against landless peasants in Corail, 5th Section Delice, Arcahaie at the hands of communal authorities in the area. Following are the statements made by three organizations at the press conference [Kreyol originals follow English translations]:
Statement of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight):
We, members of Batay Ouvriye, we are present at the table, first of all, because the organization of landless peasants laborers in Corail (OPTK) is an organization of Batay Ouvriye Arcahaie. We are denouncing the anti-organization character of all State authorities in the country, all the misdeeds and abuse imposed on Organized peasants and laborers at the hands of the three communal members, 5th Section, Delice, in the Arcahaie Commune, in particular a communal official called Joseph Pierre Rene.
They fear independent peasant laborers’ independent organizations, they cannot corrupt them in small NGO projects; the organized peasant laborers take courage in their two hands to raise and demand that what’s happening in the section be done according to their rights and interests. This is why Batay Ouvriye calls on the peasant laborer organizers to continue to consolidate their organizational work and actions that put forward their interests despite attempts from some to make them afraid. Batay Ouvriye will be present in a course of action to bring those bully communal officials to justice.
Long Live the struggle of the all organized Peasant Laborers in the country!
DOWN WITH A STATE POWER THAT SUPPORTS CRIMINAL STATE OFFICIALS!
Today, three representatives from the Landless Peasant Organization in Corail (OPTK) together with Justice and Peace organized a press conference to denounce the abuse and injustice imposed on them by the Administrative Council of Communal Section, 5th Section Delis, Arcahaie. Justice and Peace (JILAP) often works together with Batay Ouvriye in many different resistance and mobilization in Arcahaie.
In many rural areas in the country, administrative council members and other authorities supporting them, are assaulting small peasants who own a small lot or nothing at all (day laborers, agri-workers…) to steal their land or expel them from state-owned land they’ve occupied for years, or to dominate them as agri-workers who will work for multinationals soon to come in line with the imperialist plans to swamp us.
The Arcahaie examples show the LOGIC of the neo-liberal capitalist penetration that the imperialists want to push down the throats of workers, laborers, and the popular masses in general… with the help of Big Eaters and puppets of all stripes. This penetration is repressive, and violent. For that, just as the state leadership, there are repressive acts on the laborers.
The Arcahaie example is one, but there is a myriad of such acts in all rural areas in the country. THE STRUGGLE IS EVERYWHERE! It is necessary for all comrades, laborers of every kind, progressives, and all combatants…to see clearly that the penetration is happening throughout the country. Against all of us!
THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!
Kreyol original text is below.
The following leaflet was distributed in front of the SONAPI industrial park (with textile and garment factories) for March 8:
March 8, 1910 – March 8, 2016 makes 106 years since Clara Zetkin, a German militant woman who had fire in her spirit, proposed a day to commemorate the struggles that women, the factory workers and laborers in general, carried out to change their working and living conditions. March 8th was chosen to remember the great strike that textile workers had in the year 1857 in the United States for better wages, working conditions and other rights such as voting rights for women in elections.
Therefore, March 8th is rooted in the struggles that working class women led.
Today, what is our reality as working class women in the factories? Where are we on the road to the emancipation of women everywhere on Earth? In our case, in the factories, we have some mileage to go yet. We are experiencing sexual harassment from the male supervisors and managers just to have a little bit more money to pay our rents or to pay food peddlers we owe. When we are pregnant, we go through great hardships. There are no chairs for us to rest our backs, no breaks for the two daily rest periods, no lunch period; they still fire us for being pregnant at work, no time to feed our babies as the Labor Code requires. They force us to wait until we give birth to pay us maternity leave. Except for one industrial park in the country, there is no nursery for our infants when we work.
So, the whole load of exploitation in the factories, and housework, is with our children on our backs. As women, we are fathers and mothers for our children. Our wages do not reflect the family needs.
March 8 is a day for us to reflect on all those questions concerning working class women and to make a commitment to change this situation we are facing together with other workers like us. It’s a day for us to take a resolution to enter the struggle to liberate ourselves as exploited women, in the great struggle to break the exploitation and domination by the bourgeoisie and their allies and really change the country. Thus, we shall have better living wages, health care or social services, conditions we are lacking as working class women today. For these reasons, workers must come into the struggle for real liberation and emancipation of society.
This is what the commemoration of this day, March 8th,requires of us; it’s not just a question of saying to women, ‘Happy March 8th;’ it’s a day of commemoration of the struggles of exploited and dominated working class women! Let’s stand up behind our demands!
LONG LIVE THE INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES OF WORKING CLASS WOMEN FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN AND MEN!
LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLES OF THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!
MARCH 8, 2016
The original leaflet in Kreyol:
Kanmarad Ouvriye/Ouvriyèz nan faktori rad yo ak lòt Travayè/Travayèz,
STATEMENT FROM MAY FIRST UNION FEDERATION/WORKERS FIGHT
ENTE-SENDIKAL PREMYE ME/BATAY OUVRIYE
FEBRUARY 7, 2016
(Kreyol version is below)
Today, February 7, 2016, we, workers, peasants, laborers in diverse economic categories in the country, raise our voices to warn that we will not continue to accept the conditions of life allotted to us. Since the big mobilization that ousted the repressive government that took away our rights in 1986, we hoped for changes in our conditions of life and work. However, unfortunately, our situation has worsened! In 2016, we continue to be under such a crisis that keeps us from seeing where our country is heading. But with our determination, we will continue to fight; we will continue to resist against all political maneuvers and threats pointing at our heads to take away our rights as workers.
As to where this big political crisis brings us today, the word of the day is ‘transition.’ We say, during the short time it will last, the roadmap of the transitional government must take into account the demands of the workers, peasants, and laborers in the formal economy, private and public, in the informal sector in urban and rural areas, so they can breathe. Among other things, we demand that the transitional government:
- Take measures to lower the cost of living, and the country should be put on the path to national production. The inflation rate at 12.5% is gobbling up the measly income we acquire in hardship or in other activities that barely help our families survive.
- Increase the base minimum salary for all categories of workers and set up a multi-sectorial tripartite entity to propose a social benefits program such as for food, transportation, housing, schools for our children or for ourselves. There must be a salary grid with a career ladder for public sector workers, and a social protection program which allows workers in the informal sector to benefit from a social security plan.
- Pay wages due to all public school teachers, teachers in the PSUGO program (Free Universal and Mandatory School Program) and all public sector workers.
- Challenge the impunity that management enjoys in violating the rights of workers in the factories, laborers in the production establishments for local markets, in government jobs, in the service and commercial sectors to form unions.
INTERVENTION by PLASIT-BO
(Platfòm Sendikal Izin Tekstil – Batay Ouvriye / Platform of Textile Plant Unions – Workers Fight) –
PRESS CONFERENCE, JANUARY 21, 2016
PLASIT takes notice that it’s been three years since the Supreme Wage Council was created and it has not respected Article 4.1 of the 2009 Wage Law. The Council always makes its recommendations too late every year while the executive also never publish the decisions based on the council’s recommendations at the beginning of the fiscal year in October. They usually wait eight months to adjust the minimum wage either for textile workers and laborers in other sectors. Again, it’s been five months and no recommendations have been made. Its foot-dragging and delaying tactics going on without taking into account the cost of living is rising because of the devaluation of the gourde. In addition, the government substantially increases the presidential security budget and doubles the incomes of the provisional electoral council members who are organizing sham elections pushing the country into political crisis. So, those who are destroying the country are awarded while those who are creating wealth with their blood and sweat get nothing.
In this situation, PLASIT is denouncing firmly the delaying and absentee tactics of management in the supreme wage council; the government representative presiding over the council has not taken responsibility in demanding that management send in a substitute to stop the absentee tactic leading to the failure to adjust the minimum wage in a timely manner. Here we cannot forget some union representatives in the council are in cahoots with the bosses. So, we feel trapped!
Considering the prices of basic items don’t stop rising everyday where the economic and social situation of the country has gotten worse because of the grave political crisis rocking it. This causes the popular masses, and the workers in particular to be lost. We are reminding the wage council, it was since October First the wages were adjusted as stated in the 2009 Law. This time, we are not waiting eight months again to get the wage increase. Besides, Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulates when the inflation rate increases by 10%, the minimum wage must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate is at 12%, the council has made no recommendations to help the workers and laborers breathe.
We should say that there are union representatives who have suggested a minimum wage increase of 375 gourdes ($6.25) a day and 475 gourdes ($7.92) a day as the production wage for textile workers. As such, management proposes in a subtle way a minimum wage of 255 gourdes. In PLASIT, we think those two proposals don’t meet the needs of the workers considering the socio-economic reality today. The owner of the corpse must watch the corpse!
Democrat and Republican Parties as Collaborationists Against the Working Class by Joseph Harmon and Izzi Creo
Joseph Harmon, who works in the energy industry and unionized with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, shared the following on Facebook and gave permission to share with the above cartoon, as was inspired by his post:
Republican Party Agenda:
- destroy middle class
- hide behind the bible
- make everyone poor
- bitch about people being poor
- hate each other especially women
- destroy the earth
- want ‘illegals’ here to exploit
- have a big military budget to help out their donors
- hate their own family
- hide behind the bible
- use abortion to control the poor
- lying pieces of shit
Democrat Party Agenda:
- if we don’t believe in it, we try to outlaw it.
- wants religious freedom, but only in churches and homes
- thinks creating laws solve problems
- the only gun you need is the one in your pants.
- we say we like unions, but we truly don’t give a fuck because we want lobbyist money in our pocket
- pretend to be environmentalist until we get paid off
- want ‘illegals’ here to vote for them
- we want to take care of the veterans but we want to gut the military budget
- want religious freedom but want not in public
- we hate gay people, too, but want their vote
- lying pieces of shit
Oh I’m sure I could spend a lifetime making this list but something has to change.
Workers Struggle emphatically agrees with Joseph Harmon; something has to change.
BY IZZI CREO
Rooted in our interest as the working class, the half-baked offerings presented by the Republican and Democrat (or is that the Democrans and Republicrats?) parties are clear: while their rhetoric is wildly insulting it all amounts to nothing more than a false-dichotomy raining in rapid succession on the backs of the working-class, like the good ol’ one-two. Making it rain surplus-value straight to the pockets of the capitalists! Cha-ching $$$ (Who needs exclamation marks when you have dollar signs in your zombied-eyes?)
Our present condition needs naming and reporting on: We are Under Attack. It is an outright onslaught by capital’s domination and we are floundering under current forms of leadership! Think: Republican/Democrat parties are even trying to slide Bernie Sanders in and calling him a socialist (not true), unions now are businesses themselves, non-profits and their well-meaning “professional activists” slowly but methodically are taking over the role of public-services leaving the tax base to fund the militarization of police and the military operations globally. There is no denying it and naming our antagonizer is powerful.
Our current mode of production and stage of history is capitalism (/imperialism, which is the stage of capital where it’s expansion for domination has reached the global level, hence “China’s taking our jobs.”) These relations of forces (because capitalism is defined by the organization of social relationships, not really a “system”) have not delivered on their mighty-promises that worked to subdue us for the taking, in prior-decades. And now everyone’s looking around wondering, what happened? We took our guard down and became defenseless because we became “individuals”. We lost the celebration of our individuality amongst ourselves as a class, we allowed our unions to become businesses, allowed the two-parties to define political life for us (go vote!, and don’t talk about politics – it’s too ‘divisive’), we allowed right-to-work laws to spread across the country, we allowed non-profits to explode and we bought into this illusion that we no longer need to be engaged in political life because we can get paid to change the world. WE ABANDONED SOLIDARITY and let the capitalists take over, just like a good host to a parasite. In other words, we by and large aligned with Francis Fukuyama’s declaration that we have reached “The End of History.” And, for the worse. But it is not too late.
The two parties are not just bought and paid for and created by the capitalist class, but the electoral politics and the two-parties structurally, in their fundamentals, cannot ever include the deep interest of workers as a class, nor our democratic and fundamental objectives, nor the advancement of history. The minimal ways that it has seemed any minor improvements have been due to the Democrat/Republican leadership is offensively just a slight of hand. The truth is, the Democrats have repeatedly come to take ownership of the demands irreconcilable otherwise that were born out of the struggles and organized demands made by the working class itself.
We do not see a future under the leadership of these parties or the capitalist class itself because at it’s core is the economic mandate: accumulate and expand capital by any means necessary (read: Make a Profit\extract surplus value.) This means they are unable to take us forward: i.e. Trans-Pacific Partnership anyone?!
Reformism will not relieve this vice-grip squeeze and they both prove this mounting-ly so every single day with the distractions and theatrics we have been reduced to encapsulate as a whole as “politics.” We are worth far more than the Bread and Circuses being served up!
Alternatively, Workers Struggle’s position is on constructing autonomous working class organizations, lead by workers ourselves. We do not need any bureaucrat or “representative” to tell us the path forward! We, indeed, have all that we need amongst us to advance our class interest, which is part and parcel of what will advance history, too. The task is: get this parasite of our being!!
It is only the autonomous struggle of workers in organizations and it’s processes that can wield a reckoning to the bosses and phony-representatives alike, to envisage a path forward as we face a horizon event (climate crisis, refugee crises, unemployment crises, rapid rising costs of living.)
The capitalist owned mass-media once again is forewarning that we are well overdue for yet another round of bust-crises (who felt the ‘boom’?), which is a characteristic of capitalism’s ineptness to advance history, where a major bust is expected every five years or so. They call it the ‘business cycle’ or the ‘boom-bust cycle’, in capitalist economics. Yes, it is understood and in-built that these major busts will come along every few years, and who do you think takes the hit in those busts? Working class people lose their homes, retirements, jobs, hope for a future – every time and in that process, capital is consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, each and every cycle. It is only the organized and autonomous working-class, through waging struggle to overcome that can break this vicious cycle for good. There is no better time than now for solidarity, organizations, and most importantly class-AUTONOMY, my fellow sister and brother-workers.
The autonomous struggles of the working class are simply struggles waged by workers, collectively, stripped of the degenerate stain of individualism plaguing us like a fog to achieve our democratic and fundamental objectives.
It is only the leadership of an autonomous working class movement which can offer us an alternative truly free from bourgeois influence (i.e. opportunism, populism and all the other vestiges of the stifling individualist bourgeois nature) and finally stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity to bear witness and unify all the dominated classes towards defeating capital’s domination. This must be pursued without class collaboration, it is only then we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each other in solidarity rooted in our common cause and interest. Just as the Chamber of Commerce would never invite workers to their internal meetings, we too must not include our antagonizer to our internal work. With these principles, we will we lead the way…
“I have come to build a bridge,
so come let’s build,
build, build, build.”
~ Nahko & Medicine for the People
Workers Struggle asks you, what ways do you see the Democrat and Republican parties
showing their good cop/bad cop collaboration strategy against the working class?
Recently at my work (I work in retail) I came across an anti-union video that all new hires must watch. Oddly I never had to watch it; I later learned that the hiring manager at the time was somewhat sympathetic to unions and was married to a union member. Maybe she just forgot to show it to us? I’ll probably never know.
Anyway I happened to be in the break room one day at the same time as a group of new hires watching the video. Watching it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing on my legally mandated break, but despite what they tell you about capitalism you don’t really have much of a choice.
It started out with what I assume to be paid actors portraying associates, decrying the tyranny of unions and how ultimately they weren’t even needed. They weren’t needed, the ominous voice told us, because
a) the really nasty problems of capitalism, like child labor and unsafe working conditions, had been solved long ago and workplaces were now perfectly safe, non-oppressive paradises, and
b) the company’s “open door policy” and “private arbitration” would magically solve any and all conflicts between employees and the company. Just like that, capitalism itself would totally negate the central contradiction! No need for proletarian revolution after all.
Except, the unions never solved the horrors of capitalism. Continue reading
By Brandon Argy, construction worker, Indiana
December 28, 2015
I believe that too often we, as a people, put our focus on the “needy” or we bitch, bicker and argue about the various relief/welfare programs. We too often jump in and join the ranks of populism. I believe our focus and our thought process needs to be on the working class.
Has anyone really sat down and looked at the daily routine of the people who our politicians have deemed middle class; those who have work on a full time basis are more often than not, strapped at the end of the week.
Let’s go through a week of what many consider a good decent job, a factory worker. They rise at 6am (if not earlier), have a cup of coffee and head to work on the factory floor. They return home around 4pm, worn out and exhausted by the monotonous motions of the standardization of a system of obedience and structure of the bosses. Go to bed around 9pm and do it all over again the next day. Monday through Friday. Once the weekend they might have a BBQ, catch a game and toss back a few beers. Then Monday rolls around and they do it all over again.
Quality of life has been lost because we have taught ourselves that this is what we are supposed to do. At the tail end of our lives hopefully we worked hard enough to have the last few years to rest….
This makes no sense to me. This makes no sense that the working class relies on the “Labor movement” of organized labor to hopefully fetch them a better wage. A better wage to pay for the increased rent, utilities, groceries and healthcare. Truth be told, Organized Labor (AFL-CIO) doesn’t work in the interest of the working class. Their own interest is much in-line with Organized Business.
The radicals that founded this country, the radicals that began the labor movement are out there… they are lying in the factories, in construction and in the fields. A generation or two has passed without any radical action the beginning has raised concern. An alternative must present itself.
This poem was written by Robert Allen, a railroad engineer in Iowa. He says, “How to encapsulate my enlistment experience? I joined the service four months after the war was lost, at the exact ground zero if you will of the Viet Nam syndrome; the title came to me after I’d written it.”
Momma didn’t want me to join the Army
but Daddy said he’d sign for me cuz I was only 17
and he already had reservations about Momma
making me into a sissy cuz she argued to let me stay home
I didn’t like hunting cuz that 30 ought six
had a kick that hurt my skinny shoulder
and it was boring and cold
compared to fishing and frogging
Daddy was a janitor at the college and it was special
when he brought home treats from the vending machines
food that was expired, you took your chances with salmonella
if you ate a sandwich with meat, but
30 years later I wondered
if Fredy Perlman had bought a sandwich out of one of those machines
if our lives had crossed in some small way
It dcesn’t matter if he did or not
I know, my heart knows he did
Red headed stepchild on a Greyhound, heading for Detroit
20 dollars in my pocket, left the woods behind
Four Mile Road was 20 miles outside of Kalamazoo
our biggest fun was throwing dead raccoons and stringers of dead fish
down on passing cars from atop the big hill
and hearing the cars swerve and rumble to a stop, gravel flying
as we ran into the woods laughing
but I was headed for the Army now
skinny legs with holes in the knees of my jeans
going commando, wearing no underwear
I figured I’d buy some when I got to the city
somebody asked me “who’d you kill?”
I said “Nobody, I just knocked up my high school girlfriend
and we were going to do the right thing cuz we didn’t believe in abortion and we
were gonna sneak off and get married
and the army would pay for the kid.
and he said “well the Army is the place the judge sends you”.
When I got to Detroit, I was the only white
in a sea of Black faces, and all the stores were boarded up
due to the rebellions.
except Walgreens, which sold no underwear.
They put me up for the night in a crummy hotel
and the minutes turned to hours, my humiliation
knowing I faced the Guantlet in the morning
where they strip you down to your shorts- which I didn’t have-
and you get a series of shots with hand held “guns”
Sure enough, morning brought my fears to light
and I went through the Gauntlet stark naked.
Someone asked me if I was an “exhibitionist”
and I said no, I just didn’t have any underwear
after the shots were done we were herded into a room,
me still naked and everyone else still in their skivvies,
and we took the oath to defend the US Constitution from all enemies
foreign and domestic, my right hand held up in solemnity
but all I could think of was my nakedness
In the sugar plantations or bateyes of Dominican Republic, cane cutters often work barefoot. They can’t afford shoes. They can barely afford food, for that matter, despite the fact that they often work a minimum of 12 hours a day, doing the back-breaking work of cutting sugar cane by hand.
On the other side of the border that divides Hispaniola, Haitian garment workers in Port Au Prince recently blockaded a Korean factory because of bounced paychecks. For years, Haitian garment workers have been fighting wage theft and to be paid the inadequate legal minimum wage – which is still not enough to live off of, much less dignified.
“Whatever the product is – the pair of pants, the t-shirt – we are the ones producing it. We labor hard, and don’t get paid.” – Haitian garment worker of SOTA in Port Au Prince
This weekend Unión De Trabajadores Cañeros De Los Bateyes (Union of the Bateyes of Sugarcane Workers) and Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA) (Union of Textile and Garment Workers) will meet to discuss their common struggles against exploitation. Specifically, they are meeting about recent actions of the DR government to strip people of Haitian descent of their citizenship. This has mostly affected the poor – cane cutters, street vendors, and service laborers. In bringing attention and their perspective to this struggle, the groups intentions are to put down false divisions of racism and nationalism, with the goal of working together against their common enemy – the Haitian and Dominican ruling classes.
SOTA is affiliated with the autonomous workers organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO) (Workers Fight), which will host a series of meetings, a press conference, and direct action in Port Au Prince.
According to one event organizer, “They will be three Haitian cane workers, one Dominican cane worker and the coordinator of the union. The presence of the Dominican cane worker is to deny the nationalist option and to put the class situation in concrete relief, in contrast to the bourgeois organizations here who pretend to defend their ‘compatriots.'”
There is a long history of animosity between Haiti and Dominican Republic. Both nationalism and racism are deeply rooted. The DR won its independence, not from European colonialists, but from Haiti. Since then, Haitians living in the DR have faced discrimination, and thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were massacred under Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo.
In 2013, the Dominican Supreme Court retroactively withdrew citizenship from anyone born in the DR to undocumented immigrants, with the provision that persons who submitted the proper documentation could apply for legal residency. The deadline for this application was summer 2015. However, many who submitted this paperwork, along with hundreds of dollars in fees, never received any notice or proper documentation from the government. Thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent left the DR, or were rounded up and dropped at the Haitian/Dominican border, often without being able to gather their belongings or to alert their families.
UPDATE: On morning of December 9, 2015 garment workers in Port-au-Prince continue their protest against nonpayment of wages by the manufacturer. The Labor Minister came out to speak to them.
This is what an autonomous workers’ movement looks like!
Report from Haiti on November 30, 2015:
The Korean-owned garment factory gave paychecks with insufficient funds. The government promised the workers they would pay the workers themselves but they never did. This protest is going on right now in SONAPI industrial park.
The workers closed the factory by blocking the front with branches. Since this morning with posters in hand, they wanted to block the whole park but did not have the capacity for that. They are at present continuing the mobilization at the factory.
Andy Vidual works full-time graveyard at Walmart as a stocker, filling shelves in the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx section. He has worked at Walmart for the past three years and he makes $13.25/hour, which includes a $1/hour graveyard premium.
The main areas of struggle in Andy’s workplace are:
• A dick for a boss
• Work pace [excerpted below]
• Low wages [excerpted below]
[Below are excerpts from the whole interview, which can be viewed in full by clicking here: Workers Struggle-Sudbury, November 2015 Newsletter]
Andy: We’re expected as overnight stockers to do 50 boxes an hour. I’m not worried about myself, I know I do well over that…. I know there are employees that don’t make that number, and that’s why they’re on his bad side. But if I have a week without this dick boss, I’m not concerned about those numbers, I’m concerned about how the stuff looks on the shelf, and not how fast I get it out….
Rachael: How big is a box?
Andy: The main aisle that I work is the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx aisle. If I have a case of xxxxxxxxxxxxxx… that’s one [box]. It sits… on top of a tray of 12, so basically for that product, all I do is cut off the plastic, move my stuff back that’s already on the shelf and put that case there on the shelf, so that’s a quick one. But say if… somebody in another aisle that has another [case] of 12 boxes of cereal, that [box can be a different size]. All cases are a minute… and five. That’s the company standard, not just this one boss’s or this one store’s standard…. The company did a big study on it… a number of stores… and said, “Yep, your average should be one minute and five seconds per [box].”
Rachael: Capitalists are always trying to speed up work to try to get more out of their workers, and so, from a militant’s perspective, it’s actually proper for the worker to resist that pressure that the capitalist is always putting on them… especially if you notice other workers around you can’t keep that pace…. It supports them if you keep your pace slower. Now, it’s going back to the exact same point that you made earlier, which was: you want to stay in their good graces. So you have to balance that somehow, staying on the good side, but also supporting your other workers, because if they struggle to get the 50 boxes and you’re doing 70, you’re going to get used.
Andy: Oh, I’m totally getting used.
Phil Marsh is a militant postal worker with Canada Post with nineteen years seniority. Postal workers have a militant history and are currently unionized with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Phil has organized for years with the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP). He and a small group of militant postal workers are currently working to rule against Canada Post. In a short period of time, they have accumulated over 2000 hours of overtime against the corporation.
The main areas of struggle in Phil’s workplace are:
• Fighting the ongoing attack on postal workers
• Higher than average injuries
• Capitulation of union
MAY 1ST UNION FEDERATION – BATAY OUVRIYE (ESPM-BO)
Port-Au-Prince November 6, 2015
The government’s objective is to make matters worse every day for the workers and the popular masses in general while tending to the interests of big commerce, industrialists, financiers and all the other big thieves in the country. Today, the two (2) recent Executive Orders just published are a continuation of the same policies. They are increasing the cost of passport fees, tax identification numbers, and driving permits on the backs of the poor while paying high compensation to former ministers and secretaries of state for having plundered the population. In addition, the minimum salary adjustments of the laborers and workers didn’t happen in October while prices of basic goods kept going up. The workers’ purchasing power continues to decrease.
As we witness the government and Opont’s provisional electoral council making up all kinds of maneuvers and tricks to favor the same blood-sucking politicians to continue to pluck the masses at the state level, the May 1st Union Federation/Batay Ouvriye supports the two (2) days of strike the transportation unions have launched for November 9th & 10th .
We call on all workers, laborers in the private and public sectors, peasants, small peddlers, artisans, students, the unemployed, all mothers, fathers, and children of the poor to stay home to signal to the government, in a national show of togetherness, that we disagree with the damning and cynical decisions taken on our backs. This government has ripped us off enough. We cannot tolerate that any longer.
Let’s support the strike! Let’s mobilize to defend our interests!
On Behalf of ESPM-BO,
ENTÈSENDIKAL PREMYE ME – BATAY OUVRIYE (ESPM-BO)
Pòtoprens, jou ki 6 novanm 2015
Objektif gouvènman sa a, se rann travayè yo, mas pèp la anjeneral vin pi mal chak jou pandan y ap satisfè enterè gwo komèsan, endistriyèl, finansye ak tout lòt gran manjè parèy yo nan peyi a. Jodya, 2 dènye dekre yo fenk pibliye yo montre se menm politik la k ap kontinye. Y ap ogamante pri tenb paspò, matrikil fiscal, pèmi kondyi sou do malere pandan y ap bay ansyen minis ak sektetè deta yon prim poutèt yo fin byen prije popilasyon an. Mete sou sa, ajisteman salè minimòm travayè ak ouvriye yo pa fèt nan mwa oktòb la pandan pri tout pwodyi premye nesesite ap monte bwa. Pouvwa dacha ouvriye/yèz ak travayè/yèz ap kontinye bese.
Lè nou konsidere gouvènman an ak KEP Opont an ap fè tout kalite magouy pou se menm politisyen sousè sa yo ki pou kontinye prije mas popilè yo nan tèt leta a, nou menm nan ENTE SENDIKAL PREMYE ME / BATAY OUVRIYE, nou apiye 2 jounen grèv Sendika Transpò yo lanse pou le 9 ak 10 novanm k ap vini la a.
N ap mande pou tout ouvriye, travayè kit nan sektè prive oswa nan sektè piblik, peyizan, ti machann, atizan, etidyan chomè, tout manman ak papa pitit malerè ak malerèz pou yo rete lakay yo pou nou montre gouvènman sa a nan yon gwo tèt ansanm nasyonal ke nou pa dakò ak kalite desizyon move zafè y ap pran sou do nou. Gouvènman sa a prije nou ase. Nou p ap tolere sa ankò.
ANN NOU TOUT APIYE GRÈV LA. ANN MOBILIZE N POU DEFANN ENTERE NOU !